Since the crack of dawn hundreds of hoteliers have been arriving in Amsterdam to join us for one of the biggest hospitality events of this summer - the Direct Booking Summit.
Today, the participants were treated to insightful panel discussions and presentations on the hottest topics in the hospitality industry centring on Distribution, Marketing and Technology.
The participants were welcomed by Charlie Osmond, Chief Tease of Triptease, who pointed out that personalization is the ultimate trend among hotels today. He asked gathered hoteliers whether they will be proactive or reactive in taking ownership of their own distribution, setting the mood for today’s discussions. Later, he came back on the stage to speak about digital hotel experience, emphasising once again to delegates that hoteliers need to be thinking about the guest experience from the very first search all the way through to post-stay.
Charlie was followed by Geoff Andrew, CEO at WorldHotels, whose presentation 'Brand of one: How can an independent hotel compete against large chains?' shed light on performance solutions approach (also known as “the principle of starting with WHY”). ""No one wants to have the slogan, 'beautiful but boring,'" Geoff told delegates. "Make the most of your hotel's unique DNA."
The first panel discussion of the day was moderated by Oliver Geldner, Partner, Revenue & Distribution Expert at Taktikon AB. It brought together Patty de Gruiter, VP Revenue & Distribution at Europe Hotels Private Collection (EHPC), Sebastian Arnshelm, Director of Revenue Management at Nobis and Sam Riches, Director of Sales & Marketing at The Curtain for the ultimate discussion on the topic of 'Improving the relationship between Marketing, Digital and Revenue'. The message there was "make everyone responsible for distribution costs - e-commerce as well - and strategize together to ensure cooperation across the entire business."
We were blown away by the presentation 'Unlocking the potential of every acquisition channel (including the OTAs)' from Joe Pettigrew, Director of Revenue Maximisation, Europe Hotels at Starwood Capital Group. Joe gave the audience some priceless advice - for example, "Use revenue per guest as your ultimate metric to maximise the potential of every channel."
A panel moderated by Gopakumar Menon, VP of Revenue and Distribution, Highgate Hotels was held on the topic of Metasearch 2018. The panelists - James Bishop, Vice President Sales, EEA at SiteMinder, Phil Ford, Group Revenue Manager at Firmdale Hotels, Tim Davis, Managing Partner & Lead Consultant at PACE Dimensions and Adrian Hands, Senior Director, Key Accounts EMEA at TripAdvisor - discussed the metas that the consumers use, and suggested hoteliers should pay close attention to the lifetime cost of acquisition.
Then, all media partners were asked to leave the room... and behind closed doors, we held our 'secret panel' moderated by Tim Davis. Called 'With friends like these, who needs enemies?', the panel consisted of Marta Varela, Area Commercial Director Revenue Strategy at Barceló Hotels & Resorts, Satyan Joshi, Hotel Ads Business Leader UK at Google and Ludovic Cacciapaglia, Director Distribution Strategy at InterContinental Hotel Group. We'd love to tell you what they said but... it's for our audience's ears only!
One of the most motivating speeches of the day was 'Convincing your boss: How to prove the value of new investments' by Rob Paterson, CEO of Best Western Hotels & Resorts in Great Britain. Rob generously shared his secret sauce for creating a “win/win” for all involved parties, and we couldn't get enough of it!
'Good personalization is invisible', said Ellen Pickett, Digital Manager from The Hoxton, at our next panel. Ellen, Maarten Plesman, Chief Revenue Officer at Revinate and Alex Obertop, General Manager at SIDE Hotel Hamburg, shared deep insights into Customer Relationship Management during an insightful panel discussion.
Robin Clifford, Territory Manager Homes, Northern Europe for Airbnb, also touched on a similar topic, stating during his talk 'What hoteliers need to know about Airbnb' that “hotels are the gateway for guest experiences”, and highlighted the importance of “local experiences”, which are “built by a community for a community”.
Rob Fleischer, Director Sales and Marketing at GuestScores, has encouraged us think about digital communication with the hotel guests, introducing the audience to the challenges of analyzing customer feedback from online reviews.
Thomas Magnuson, co-founder and CEO of Magnuson Hotels, followed Rob by telling us the story of how he went from running an independent that was struggling to find the right platform for success, to a company with over 1000 properties globally.
Stephan Keschelis, VP E-Commerce & Digital Transformation for NH Hotel Group (whose Barbizon Palace venue we are lucky enough to be in today!) closed out Day 1 with 'Bot vs. human: Which chat is right for my hotel website?'. The point that really hit home for the audience was "treat your chat service - whether it's a human or a bot on the end of it - as a VIP service for your guests."
And that's it for today! There's still time to register for tickets to our Dallas event if you can't bear the thought of missing out in October. We are now off to the grandest party in the history of DBS. Follow us to get a look behind the scenes!